Building a culture of solidarity - Bernard MICHEL - Gecina Foundation Chairman
Created in 2008, the Gecina Foundation reinforces the commitments made by the Group and its employees through socially responsible actions, in line with the company’s values.
The Foundation supports community-interest projects focused on 2 key areas: the environment and disability.
The Foundation operates in two ways:
Whatever approach is adopted, the Gecina Foundation wants to engage the Group’s employees in collective actions and skill-sharing initiatives so they can discover and volunteer to get involved in the projects supported.
This project aims to organize the voluntary collection of bottle tops so that they can be recycled and help fund specially adapted equipment for disabled sportspeople.
157 bottle top collectors have been set up since 2013 at 60 of the Group’s residences in order to develop the collection of bottle tops with tenants from the residential portfolio. Collection units have also been set up at the Group’s headquarters.
The charity Parole de Chien recruits and trains volunteer owners and their dogs to carry out visits and special activities for elderly or disabled people in hospitals, retirement homes and specialist facilities.
The Foundation is supporting the charity with this approach and in particular setting up and developing workshops for young adults with physical disabilities, as well as children and adolescents in hospital.
The “Rééducation sous le chapiteau” project, carried out with the Varennes-Jarcy educational medical center (Essonne), aims to offer disabled patients access to a fun, recreational activity through circus arts. In particular, this enables them to develop their physical and cognitive capacities, while building their self-confidence and enhancing their motor and sensory capacities.
Activities overseen by six professional performers from the Rudi Llata circus company are organized by consulting and engaging with all the professionals from the educational, care and technical rehabilitation teams. The project will end with a performance for the patients‘ families and carers.
Under the partnership established with the French coastal heritage association (Conservatoire du Littoral), the Gecina Foundation has been supporting the preservation of an iconic site – the Domaine du Rayol estate - for several years. This unique natural site, in the Corniche des Maures, in the Var region, is a particularly renowned French estate garden.
The Foundation has deployed around 100 Gecina staff to help preserve the environment in this outstanding garden, which is open to the public, particularly by building dry stone walls, paving pathways and creating an educational trail.
This project has also offered opportunities to develop skill-sharing with the initiative to renovate Le Rayolet, one of the site’s buildings, which will become a training center for students from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Paysage Versailles Marseille.
The French bee research observatory (OFA), located in the Var region, in the Sainte-Baume mountains, is taking action to support the regeneration of bee populations with a view to further strengthening the pollination required to maintain agricultural production. It is helping set up beekeeping operations specialized in breeding and reproduction, managed by young beekeepers that have been trained up by the observatory, which will monitor the quality of their work. The European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture voted, with a large majority, to support the European pilot project presented by the OFA based around three urgent measures: building bee populations back up again, regenerating Europe’s bee stock and training 30,000 new beekeepers in Europe. 10 million new bee colonies will be created by 2025..
The Gecina Foundation has supported the OFA to set up the first specialist professional training session on apiology and to roll out its support program helping the breeding apiologist beekeepers who successfully complete this training to set up their own operations.
Tour du Valat is a dedicated wetland research center in France’s Camargue region.
The Résifaune project, led by Tour du Valat, is an innovative environmental and community-interest project that aims to analyze the transmission dynamics for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It is looking to understand how antibiotic-resistant bacteria are exchanged between wildlife and human populations in order to be able to identify key habitats and control exchanges.
This 36-month project is being carried out in partnership with the French national research center (CNRS) for analyzing bacterial strains. The first studies are underway.
ACCESSIBLE TRAIL IN MEUDON FOREST – OFFICE NATIONAL DES FORETS
Based around shared values (managing heritage, welcoming the public, ensuring accessibility, etc.), the Gecina Foundation has launched and co-built with the French national forestry office (ONF), a key partner, some major skill-sharing initiatives and projects (protecting the environment and ensuring accessibility for disabled people).
This site, chosen for its biological and historical interest in the “13 bridges” section of Meudon forest, aims to offer an accessible trail for the four types of disability: impaired sight, impaired hearing, mental disabilities and physical disabilities. It has been awarded the French Tourism and Disability label.
This project’s management has been guided by an approach to consult with disability charities, local officials, regional technicians, the Gecina Foundation and the ONF.
Thanks to a trail with four themed clearings, visitors can discover several information points (signs, boards in braille and relief, interactive and fun apparatus) that are specially designed for use by all audiences.The Foundation’s support has focused on three areas: ensuring accessibility for disabled people and diverse users, promoting and protecting the natural environment, creating a fun, sensory, educational trail.
It supports a very wide range of beneficiaries: families, elderly people and, above all, disabled people, who can now access this site.
Since the Foundation was created, 280 volunteers have got involved at various levels: skill-sharing partnerships, sponsoring of projects, collective deployments on concrete, ad hoc support initiatives.
PASCAL LEMOINE, Head of IT and telecoms operating systems, coached Learnenjoy, a charity that publishes specially-adapted schoolbooks on touchscreen tablets for children with autism, in connection with ASHOKA’s Impact Handicap Program, supported by the Foundation. The aim is to encourage the emergence of and support socially innovative projects, while identifying and distributing best practices, and helping structure the social entrepreneurship sector. 10 Gecina employees have been deployed to support entrepreneurs and help them structure their projects.
NICOLAS LEPIGEON, Head of financial control, coached the charity “A deux mains” in connection with ASHOKA’s Impact Handicap Program. This charity offers unique socio-educational support for deaf or hearing children with deaf parents.
GUILLAUME TRUONG, Head of investments and sales, sponsor of DONS SOLIDAIRES. This charity is developing product-based donations, collecting unsold items that would otherwise have been destroyed and distributing them to people without the means to pay for them. The Gecina Foundation is supporting the development of the Seniors division, looking to reestablish social ties by helping elderly, underprivileged and/or dependent people to escape from their material and emotional isolation.
JEROME ENGELBRECHT, Head of financing, sponsoring the pollination project with Viviane Carbognani-Liotta. The Foundation is supporting the French bee research observatory (Observatoire Français d’Apidologie), a charity that is taking action to support the regeneration of bee populations with a view to further strengthening the pollination required to maintain agricultural production, helping set up beekeeping operations specialized in breeding and reproduction, managed by young beekeepers who have received specific training.
SABRINA CHILLAOUI, CSR project manager, took part in a disability awareness afternoon organized by CAP SAAA and the Foundation, on the square in front of Paris’ Palais Royal, where employees were introduced to wheelchair rugby, before watching a match between France and New Zealand.
CHRISTINE SOULEVANT, , Legal assistant, took part in a collective action to build nesting islands for wetland birds on Île de Ré, under the partnership with the French association for the protection of birds (LPO).
The Gecina Foundation has a board of directors composed of representatives of Gecina's business lines and three individuals qualified for their expertise on disability and environment.
Four stages when applications are received:
1. Eligibility checked
2. Projects mapped out
If the project is eligible, the Foundation checks its viability and looks for an employee to sponsor it.
3. Projects supported
The employee sponsor and the project sponsor present the eligible project to the Board of Directors. The Board meets once or twice a year to review the support awarded.
If the project is approved, a partnership agreement is signed between the Foundation’s Chairman, the charity’s representative and the employee sponsor. This document officially sets out the commitments for each party (subject, duration of the agreement, communications, funds awarded, monitoring, assessment, etc.). 75% of the funds are awarded to the project sponsor when this agreement is signed, with the remaining 25% to follow when the project is completed successfully.
4. Projects implemented
The project’s development and implementation are regularly communicated on and monitored. The project is closed following an end-of-sponsorship review, which includes its future prospects.
To be supported by the Foundation, projects must meet the following eligibility criteria:
1. Alignment with its areas for action:
The Foundation exclusively supports projects in France.
Projects must be lasting, feasible, specific, innovative and able to be reproduced. They must be able to become increasingly independent in terms of funding, with or without other financial partners, and must be compliant with the code of ethics.
4. Collective, concrete, lasting projects
The Foundation does not cover individual projects (research trips, etc.), projects located outside of France, one-off or temporary projects and events (charity challenges, expeditions, etc.) without any concrete outputs, projects that relate to structures' operating costs (salaries, letting of premises, etc.), or projects that are not compliant with the code of ethics.
5. Project sponsor
The project sponsor, association or other organization must be recognized for their experience, knowledge, legitimacy and credibility in relation to the themes and projects being proposed. To be eligible, structures must be non-profit and non-commercial, unless they have a social and solidarity mission.
6. Employee sponsors for projects
One or more Gecina employees must be able to be involved in carrying out and overseeing the project.
If a program is eligible, but does not have any Gecina employees in place, the Foundation will propose this program to one or more employees who will be its sponsor, in charge of its request for support. The employee or employees will present the project to the Board of Directors, which will decide on the request for support submitted by the employee.
Requests for support from charities must be submitted to the Foundation using the online platform.